How To Swing Dance

There are many different types and styles of Swing.  One of the most popular styles is called East Coast Swing, or Triple Time Swing.  It consists of a rotating basic step with lots of spins and turns and is danced to moderately fast music.  A lot of 50s music is good for dancing East Coast Swing.  Just as in all forms of partner dancing, its important to learn the proper footwork and timing, and how to lead and follow. 
 
Footwork and Timing
 
Most of the patterns in East Coast Swing are made up of triple steps and rock steps.  The count for a triple step is 1&2 and the count for a rock step is 1,2.  The basic step in East Coast Swing consists of two triple steps and then a rock step.  Therefore the count for the basic step is triple step, triple step, rock step, or 1&2, 1&2, 1,2.  Below is a description of the basic step in East Coast Swing.  Remember that because the steps are quick, they should all be very small and the feet should never be more than shoulder width apart.  This will keep your feet under your body and give you better balance. 
 
Basic Step
 
Man's part 

  1. Take a small step to the side with the left foot (count 1)
  2. Close the right foot to the left foot (count &)
  3. Take another small step to the side with the left foot (count 2) Do not close the right foot to the left.
  4. Leaving the right foot where it is, replace your weight to the right foot  (count 1)
  5. Close the left foot to the right foot (count &)
  6. Take a small step to the side with the right foot (count 2)
  7. Take a small step back with the left foot (count 1)
  8. Replace your weight to the right foot (count 2) 
     

Lady's part - The lady's part is the natural opposite of the man's part. 

  1. Take a small step to the side with the right foot (count 1)
  2. Close the left foot to the right foot (count &)
  3. Take another small step to the side with the right foot (count 2) Do not close the left foot to the right.
  4. Leaving the left foot where it is, replace your weight to the left foot (count 1)
  5. Close the right foot to the left foot (count &)
  6. Take a small step to the side with the left foot (count 2)
  7. Take a small step back with the right foot (count 1)
  8. Replace your weight to the left foot (count 2) 
     

Note - Steps 1-3 for both the man and lady is the first triple step, steps 4-6 is the second triple step and steps 7 and 8 are the rock step. 
 
Partnering
 
Dance Position East Coast Swing is danced in an open dance position which means that the man and woman will dance facing each other holding hands.  The lady should curve her fingers so that they form the shape of a "C."  The man will hold his hands out in front of his body with his palms facing towards each other and his fingers curved inwards.  The woman will place her hands on top of the man's hands so that her fingers rest against the man's fingers. 
 
Lead and Follow Leading is a non-verbal communication between the man and the woman.  The man only needs to indicate to the woman where he wants her to go or what he wants her to do.  The woman is responsible for moving herself where she is being led.  The man should not try to make the woman move where he wants her to go and the woman must not decide what she is going to do before she is led.  This is called back leading and makes leading and following very difficult.  In order to lead and follow well, both partners must have what is called a connection, which needs to be maintained at all times. 

In an open dance position, as in East Coast Swing, the connection comes through the hands.  Both the man and the woman should pull their hands away from each other creating a slight pressure.  There is always an equal amount of pressure towards or away from your connecting point (in this case, the fingers).  There should be not squeezing, or gripping of your partner's hands and no use of the thumbs.  This will break the connection.
 
These are the most basic movements and techniques in East Coast Swing.  Once you learn the basic step, you will be ready to start doing all kinds of different spins and turns.

 

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